Nonfiction Writing Program founder and author Carl H. Klaus dies

The writer and founder of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program died at 89 years old.


Contributed photo of Carl K. Klaus.

Jami Martin-Trainor, Arts Reporter

Carl H. Klaus, founder of the University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program and a critically acclaimed essayist, has died. He was 89.

Author of My Vegetable Love, A Self Made of Words, Letters to Kate, and many other works, Klaus left a legacy for future writers to carry out through his own work and pioneering of the UI Nonfiction Writing Program. 

Klaus aimed to write essays that made his own experiences relatable. By looking at common aspects of life through an experienced lens, like gardening or winter weather, Klaus was able to find a broader significance.

Klaus’s death was announced in a Facebook post by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature. 

RELATED: Ask the Author – Carl H. Klaus

Carl documented his world through essays that gave universal context to his personal experiences, from gardening to retiring to aging,” the post said. “We share our sympathies with his family, colleagues and friends in the Iowa City writing community.”

Versatility was another aspect dear to Klaus’ style, which he previously discussed with the Daily Iowan in an email from Sept. 2021, when describing his identity as a writer. He understood the profound complexity of human life and saw writing as an extension of that idea. His writing style was flexible, and he said he hoped to capture his true self in any way, shape, or form on the page.

Unafraid to let his audiences into the more intimate parts of his life, Klaus shared his experiences with authenticity and care. Most recently, Klaus released his book The Ninth Decade, which explored life after turning 80 years old. 

In the same September email to the DI, Klaus had communicated his satisfaction with the Nonfiction Writing Program, extending praise to the students and directors that allowed it to flourish.

“I have been awed by the notable success of the Nonfiction Writing Program in recent years, thanks especially to the long and devoted service of its former director, John D’Agata, as well as the gifted writers and students he brought to the program,” Klaus wrote in an email.

Klaus’ legacy continues to live on through his work and the Nonfiction Writing Program. His encounters with the world of literature have left lasting and deep results, and his deeply rooted presence in the Iowa writing community is clear.